Belong To Me (book 4) (The Fielding Brothers Saga)

BELONG TO ME

Book Four in the “Fielding Brothers Saga”

 

Marie Higgins

 

 

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or
dead,
is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

 

Belong To Me

Previously published under my old pen name, Phyllis

Copyright
© 2011 by Marie Higgins

Cover Design by Sheri
McGathy

 

 

Edition License Notes

This
ebook
is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This
ebook
may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.

 

For more information about author:
 
http://mariehiggins84302.blogspot.com

 

Charlotte Fielding, tired of being without her wayward husband, travels to Bath to find him. She discovers him at a masked ball amidst the throng of revelers. Her revenge on him is that he doesn’t know who she is, so she seduces him. When his reaction to her identity isn’t what she expects, she hardens her heart against him. Charlotte wants an annulment and nothing less. He talks her into a bargain—to stay as his wife for a month and then if they don’t suit well with each other, he’ll grant her wish. What she uncovers about his life is far more than she bargained for. In addition to the disguises in his closet from his investigative business, she stumbles across secrets. Those of which she wished she’s never known.

Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Ian Fielding has his hands full with proving his innocence. His wife picks that moment to show up on his doorstep, and he’s forced to take her with him. Matters become more complicated when he becomes unexplainably attracted to her. The timing couldn’t be more inconvenient. When the couple takes refuge in an old castle owned by a recluse beastly lord, they soon become aware that the owner has plans of his own.

Swept into a whirlwind of mystery, passion and adventure, Charlotte must discover the truth of her own heart before it’s too late for them both.

 

Dedication

 

I want to thank my readers who encouraged me throughout my Fielding Brother’s saga.

Chapter One

 

England 1854

 

The masked man in black glanced her way. Charlotte Fielding held her breath as her heartbeat started a frantic rhythm. This was him...the very person she had come to seek revenge upon tonight.

Charlotte’s palms moistened inside blood-red gloves as she took deep breaths in hopes of calming her nerves. Amongst the couples crowding the ballroom, the mysterious man wearing black weaved around them, his cape flipping out from behind until he stood with a group of aristocrats. The way he moved and tilted his head reminded Charlotte of yesteryear. Now after three years, she’d be able to confront her absentee husband.

She’d been in a foul disposition since arriving in Bath three days ago because the rotten lout she’d married couldn’t be found. Finally, her friend, George
Fauxley
, discovered her husband would be at this very ball tonight, looking for a woman dressed as the She-Devil.

Charlotte grinned. Her plan was unfolding perfectly. Her truant husband would think she was his informant for his current investigation, but instead, he’d meet
her
...the wife he hasn’t seen for three years.

Dressed in midnight from the silk scarf covering his hair to the tips of his polished knee-boots, Ian Fielding exuded confidence and charisma. When he had rescued her from kidnappers a few years ago, she’d fallen in love with him. And now, from across the room, those memories she’d stashed away assailed her.

From across the room, his gaze met Charlotte’s again and his lips curved into a grin. He moved away from the influential people he’d been conversing with, holding her attention the whole time. The crowd around her seemed to disappear from her view, leaving her staring only at him. The shape of his chiseled jaw and the structure of his muscular frame emphasized his build. His cape had been tossed over one shoulder, displaying his loose-fitting raven colored shirt and tight trousers. At first, she wondered if his costume was a pirate. But the long cape suggested otherwise. His intent stare through the mask made her heart’s rhythm increase triple-fold.

Charlotte’s chest hurt as if she’d forgotten to breathe. Insecurity spread through her, a feeling not experienced since she’d been a bookish girl. She whipped around and grasped her friend’s arm. Trying to breathe slower, Charlotte worked to regulate her quick heartbeat. “I don’t think I can go through with this.”

Mrs. Allison Archibald patted Charlotte’s hand. “Do not fear. Simply remain the She-Devil you’ve portrayed for the last half hour. Your husband will be swept away by your charm, I assure you.” Allison pulled away and eyed Charlotte’s costume. “And he’ll definitely be enthralled by your seductive attire.”

The tight-fitting, blood red gown squeezed Charlotte’s bosom. That could be the only reason she couldn’t breathe well. She ran a shaky hand down the silk waist, noting how the material molded to her curves almost like a wet cloth. A heart-shaped bodice showed more skin than she’d ever displayed, and she moved her hand up to cover herself. Red gossamer sleeves hung straight on her arms, gathering at her elbows, and the skirt flattened against her legs. Her attire was indecent, to be sure. Then again, this was a masked ball. Most everyone here wore something outrageous. Although her friend’s Egyptian gown was alluring, it didn’t come close to being as immodest as Charlotte’s costume.

“How can I seduce a man when I have not done this sort of thing before?” Charlotte’s voice squeaked as panic gripped her throat.

“Nonsense.”
Allison flipped her hand through the air. “You were the hit of the season not too long ago. Men from all over admire you…they still do, in fact. You have a way of melting them with your smile and your words. Albeit, this time you’ll be going a touch farther, but I’m confident you will turn out a great performance.” Allison grinned. “After all, you’ve had me as your teacher for two years.”

Charlotte chuckled stiffly. “Indeed, but now the time is at hand, and I fear I may turn into a coward.”

“But the man in question is your husband.”

“Knowing that doesn’t ease my nerves one bit.”

“Think of it
like
this,” Allison said. “You are both in mask, and he doesn’t know who you are.”

“Not yet, he doesn’t.” Charlotte arched an eyebrow.

“Oh, my dear friend, where is your sense of adventure? Where is the bold woman who only a month ago suggested traveling to Bath to find that good-for-nothing Mr. Fielding so she could exact revenge?”

Charlotte breathed deeper, trying to steady her heart once again. “You are correct. I shall put aside my worries for now and become the She-Devil I’m dressed to be.”

Before her doubts took control, heavy footsteps vibrated on the floor behind her. A mixture of spice and leather wafted through the air, stirring unknown quivers in her stomach. He was here! The time was at hand.

“Bonjour, Mademoiselle.”

His deep faux French accent sent heated tremors spiraling down her spine, and Charlotte shivered. She should hate him, but now, the only revenge she sought was to make him desire her, just as she had longed for him all these years. She would dangle her charms within reach but would not let him follow through with his desires. The final blow would be presenting him with the annulment papers.

Serves him right for breaking her heart!

Straightening her shoulders, she turned to face him. He stood dangerously close, and a soft gasp sprang from her lips. His tall frame and wide chest made her throat grow dry. The top of her head barely reached his chin.

Collecting her wits, she smiled. “Ye—” She cleared her throat. “Yes?”

His sculptured lips curved into a grin. “May I have the privilege of escorting you for the next dance?”

“Of course, but only because my partner has yet to claim me.”
She laid her unsteady hand on top his and he led the way.

Heat from his powerful body radiated from his skin. He spoke not a word as he slid his arm around her waist and took her in the dance hold. When their feet stepped in time with the string quartet’s waltz, he pulled her body scandalously closer.

Under her hand, the smooth material of his shirt slid beneath her fingers. Flesh and sinew flexed under her palms. Tightening her lips, she held back the sigh that wanted to escape, reminding
herself
that this was revenge and nothing more.

“Are you aware of the spectacle you’ve made tonight,
Chère
?”

Shock trembled through her at his blunt words. Did he know who she was?
Of course not.
He wouldn’t know her true identity until she removed her mask. And even then she wondered if he’d recognize her.

“I don’t care what people think of me,” she admitted.

“You’re certainly the most provocative woman at this ball.”

She breathed a sigh. “You really think so? I’m not aware of this.”

“You’re certainly a temptress, luring to your side every man here.”

“And what of you, kind sir?
Are you aware of how devastatingly handsome and mysterious you are?”

“No, my attention has been focused on one woman in particular, and I’m dancing with her now.”

She tilted her head, keeping her gaze on him. “Are you always this forward?”


Oui
.”
He chuckled. “Are you?”

“It’s for you to find out.”

His dark eyebrows lifted. “Am I to believe you are this way because you’re tempted to taste the forbidden fruit?”

His charm hypnotized all of her senses, weakening her limbs. To keep from falling under his spell, she changed the subject. “What is your costume, kind sir?”

“What do you want me to be,
Chère
?”

Her heart knocked against her ribs. “That’s not a fair answer to my question.”

“The truth is, my She-Devil,” he replied, huskiness filling his voice as his fingers stroked her hand, “this costume was a last minute decision. So please, tell me what you think I might be, and it shall be so.”

She looked away from the shadow of his eyes peering through the mask and scanned his body. He fit in his dark and mystifying attire perfectly, so flawless it made her heart skip a beat. Too bad he didn’t want her as a wife three years ago. Perhaps she wouldn’t have thought she had wasted the last twenty-four months of her life.

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